Re: Ruminations on Interaction

Richard Povall (
Sat, 03 May 1997 11:41:20 -0400

>The posts by mark and johannes sparked off a couple of broad thoughts on
>dance/performance making with ramifications for issues of interactivity and
>-- Dance/performance in the west is still being largely maintained by
>cultural mechanisms put into place in the early to mid part of this
>century... and these mechanisms arose from the concept of the individual
>artist which began in the Renaissance. What if the particular maker/audience
>relationship based on this concept are no longer be viable? So, what do we
>base our motivations and decisions as makers on? What of the current
>discussions about the 'distributed self (artist)' and 'networked art'?

...but it's not just the maker/audience relationship we are questioning
here (and I wonder to what extent we are in fact questioning that
relationship, at least in those pieces that still use traditional
performance mechanisms). What is being challenged much more fundamentally
is the relationship between maker and performer. This is certainly not the
first challenge to this relationship, but I think interactive environments,
when designed with a real insight and level of sophistication, challenge
the maker/performer relationship in an entirely new way. That relationship
has already been the subject of much discussion in this list.

>-- I am of the opinion that audiences for dance as produced in performance
>spaces are extremely specialized (and educated to 'see' what is being shown)
>-- they are mainly comprised of other makers and a small group of devoted
>'cultural' voyeurs. We, as makers, cannot avoid being participants in this
>-- so we specialize as well... in order to 'develop' our work... based on
>historical precedents and cultural contexts. And THEN, most of our best
>moments are appropriated by the advertising industry.

Oh dear, Scott's having a bad day! I wonder if he's right about this,
though? It's probably reasonable to suggest that almost all experimental
art ideas have been appropriated by a profit-making enterprise in some form
or another. This is perhaps the inevitable movement of ideas. More
interesting is the backward appropriation of ideas from advertising and new
commercial music forms that has so influenced current art-making. I fear
this takes us into dangerous theoretical territory (the discussion, not the
act of appropriation itself), and it's probably best left well alone...


R i c h a r d P o v a l l
Assoc. Prof of Computer Music and New Media
MPO Box 0332 TIMARA/Studio 5
Oberlin, OH 44074-0332 USA Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Voice: +1.216.775.1016 Oberlin College
Fax: +1.216.775.8942 Oberlin, OH 44074 USA
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